Last year, we faced one of the most radically changing business environments; the pandemic's onset led to numerous external factors beyond the control of leadership teams. Many leaders made quick decisions, some being knee-jerk reactions, like mass layoffs or salary reductions.
According to Statistics Canada, the economic output in April 2020 was 18% below the pre-pandemic levels, with approximately 15% of the workforce losing their jobs. Towards the end of 2020, Canadians had lost almost half a million jobs. Recovery continues to be slow.
Surviving The ‘Pivot’
2020 was in no way predictable, and leaders can be given grace for reacting and doing what was necessary to survive. In 2021, however, if companies want to move beyond mere survival, we need to emerge from our protective shells and ask the question, "Are these short-term pivots sustainable long-term?"
We must re-imagine how our organizations will evolve to thrive in a new reality where significant change happens quickly. Look at Zoom Video, which tanked 17.4% just on the positive news of the vaccine, without even the approval from Federal authorities on its mass usage.
Things are taking longer than we all expected – and some companies won't be able to continue as-is for much longer. We must look at our short-term reactions and realign with future goals.
Hard Hit Industries Need to Reassess
One of the most severely impacted is the aviation industry, with mass closures of international borders and extreme travel restrictions.
For instance, Singapore Airlines had its Airbus A380 aircraft fleet grounded (the largest passenger aircraft). They introduced an Airbus A380 restaurant allowing fans and passengers who missed flying to experience dining aboard the craft without paying full fare.
Another example, more philanthropic, is Hotel Avenir Montmartre in Paris, which opened its doors to the homeless since COVID-19 ensured near-zero occupancy.
While these may have been great ideas in the short-term, they are not sustainable long-term solutions. That's where re-imagining comes into focus; organizations need to move beyond the pivot to focus on a longer-term approach towards building viable futures.
5 Critical Questions to Kick-Start Re-Imagining Your Workplace.
1. What is the primary purpose of our organization’s existence?
The most crucial step, before re-imagining, is to re-visit the organization’s purpose.
Why do we do what we do? Has the pandemic impacted our purpose? Have we had to fundamentally change what we do or who we serve?
Committing to your purpose and re-stating your desired outcomes will help create a strong
2. What have we gained, and what have we lost?
With any forced change, there will be both positive and negative effects.
Is there a clear understanding of what we have gained and what we have lost? Which changes are sustainable, and which are not?
Conducting an inventory of impacts helps you see the next steps.
3. Where is our industry going?
Massively successful organizations don’t just predict the future – they create it (think Amazon, Apple).
How has the pandemic affected our industry? Has it created a new need that we can fulfill?
Determining where your industry is going can help you shape and define the future.
4. How has the pandemic impacted our brand and stakeholders?
The pandemic has had a wide-spread impact on business brands and stakeholders – internal and external.
Are we living up to our brand promise? Are we meeting stakeholder expectations (employees, clients, shareholders, vendors)?
View your company through the lens of others to help identify improvement areas you may have otherwise missed.
5. Are we equipped to proceed?
As we move forward with re-imaging your workplace, it's essential to focus on the internal necessary to achieve your renewed goals and expectations.
Do our employees have the necessary skills and competencies to deliver under these new expectations? Do our processes need to be updated to accommodate new ways of working?
Defining the gaps and creating plans to address them will help ensure you are moving forward strategically.
Reassess and Prioritize Long-Term Strategy
2020 brought remarkable examples of resilience in business. It also brought devastating loss. Now is the time to take action and begin preparing for the road ahead.
Taking action and creating a long-term plan for change can be overwhelming, but it needs to be a priority for many. At LOFT Consulting, we can be a partner in this process. We have tools to help you navigate, such as our Guide to Establishing Flexible Workplace Practices.